Talking Lions! Walking Snails!

With regard to the current controversy generated by the revelations in Haaretz of secret talks between Israeli and Syrian representatives spread out over a 2-year period between mid 2004 and mid 2006, I would like to make the following points:

* I was indeed aware of the early efforts and contacts made to hold talks between Syrian and Israeli representatives in Madrid. If anything, the year of 2004 was the year for quiet overtures between the two governments, and I had already commented on my always-and-forever independent part in such endeavors earlier. I had nothing to do with this particular initiative, however, and am really surprised that the talks did last for as long as they did and produced an actualagreement.

* The denial by Syrian officials that such talks did indeed take place, and the reaction of so many people commenting on this news in a variety of Arabic forums and websites, if anything, serve to demonstrate the validity of the arguments I made in my recent article in the Forward, namely: that peace with the Assads at this stage would be tainted, and that the Assads are quite aware of that. For this reason, the Assads will talk the talk, but they will not walk the walk. So, if this leak to the Haaretz was meant to show that the Assads mean business, to me, the reactions to it perfectly illustrate why they can’t.

2 thoughts on “Talking Lions! Walking Snails!

  1. AmmarI have now read, for the first time, your April 30, 2006 post “Of Lions and Termites!”.Clearly you speak on the subject with a great deal of authority based on first hand knowledge of the Assads and what makes them tick.Are they, however, not in a win-win situation now? If the Israelis for one reason or another walk away from the deal, no one will blame the Assads and they can just flick the “resistance” switch and bide their time. If the Israelis decide to call their bluff, the Assads can sell the deal to the Syrian people who, in my estimation, are sick and tired of the no-war no-peace situation and beginning to see the looming economic disaster. I remember ordinary people feeling quite excited about peace prospects during the talks in Madrid. Do you not think they are ready for a deal(assuming of course it is a done deal, although I personally do not believe it is)?If a peace agreement is concluded Assads gets a lease of life as investment pours into the country. Could that be the kind of scenario he is hoping to engineer? It is not just Bushra and Assef who can influence his thinking. As you know, he is also married to a clever investment banker with good connections!

  2. Indeed, Philip, I believe that this is exactly what Bashar and the rest of the Leonine Gang hope to accomplish. The only problem here is the Hariri investigation. Is the world willing to forgive them for that? Will the Israelis use the Assads desperation to push for more concessions? Will the Assads buckle? Can they get away with it if they did? What will happen should the peace talks collapse again due to the inability of both sides to reach a timely agreement? These are the kind of questions that we have to deal with now. They are not as easy as many think, and the Assads are not exactly in that win-win position they covet.

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